I think I like those Jets sweaters best…
It may be hard to care about the result of tonights game while we our collective hearts are a flutter over the news that the Flames may be closing in on signing T.J Brodie to an extension (for what may be a reasonable price). However, the Flames have a game to play tonight against the Winnipeg Jets on “Rogers Presents: Placating Ron MacLean” or something.
The Flames are closing out a long and fairly successful road trip that has seen them beat Nashville, Chicago, and Edmonton (wait, they’re still giving out points in the standings for beating the Oilers right?) and can finish the trip above .500 with a win tonight in Winnipeg. See the lineups for both squads after the jump.
THE FIGHTIN’ FLAMES
There are a few changes in the Flames roster from the last game against CBJ. Here are the Flames lines thanks to our buds at Daily Faceoff (forgive them for the Johnny’s jersey foul):
Your friend and mine Johnny Gaudreau draws back into the lineup tonight after watching the Flames’ comeback efforts against Columbus fall one goal short. Gaudreau has, once again, been given a wonderful opportunity here with being on a line with Backlund. There’s a lot of speed on that line and hopefully JG can net his first point of the season tonight.
Training camp celebrity and hero from last game vs. Columbus Josh Jooris went down with an ‘upper body’ injury at some point in that game and will not play tonight which is a shame. Jooris scored a beautiful goal (off an all-world pass from Gio) and generally looked quite strong throughout his first NHL game. I think we are all looking forward to seeing him in action again soon.
I’m not sure about you guys, but I don’t think Sean Monahan has looked quite right this season. Aside from a couple nice passes to Jiri Hudler in the first couple games, he seems a step behind in the offensive zone and lost in his own zone. Hopefully he is just re-adjusting himself back to the pace of the pros and not indicative of a sophomore slump. On the bright side, he seems to have improved in the circle, posting 50% or better in four out of the first six games.
I’m not sure what Paul Byron has done to deserve the indignity of being placed on a line with Lance Bouma at centre. I would have thought if Setoguchi drew back in tonight, which he will, that he would likely be serving Bollig duty but apparently not. I have been very impressed with Byron, hell, since forever and I hope that this is isn’t some sort of punishment being levied against him.
With Engelland still out with a lower-body injury, Diaz will play again tonight and be paired with Smid. I haven’t been disappointed with Diaz’s play so far this season and I like his ability to exit the zone. Sure he isn’t great in his own zone but I think the logic is that pairing him with Smid would balance that out. Sadly, Smid is terrible.
Ryan Pike mentioned on twitter after last game that Kris Russell’s play has looked a lot more confident this season and that he looks quite poised with the puck. I have been pleased with Russell’s play so far (based solely on the eye test) and I think he has been the strongest defender outside of Brodano. Though that is not exactly a high bar.
Jonas Hiller starts in net tonight. His last start was pure thievery against Chicago, giving the Flames a 2-1 win in OT that they really had no business getting.
T.J GALIARDI’S JETS
Here is the Jets roster thanks to Daily Faceoff:
Many consider Winnipeg to be one of the west’s strongest contenders for the McDavid/Eichel sweepstakes but I’m not so sure, they seem more mediocre than god awful, save for a few timely injuries. Up front, the Jets have a pretty solid lineup with some useful bottom sixers in Frolik, Galiardi, and the youngster Lowry. Much like the Flames, this lineup isn’t anywhere near good enough to contend for a playoff spot but they may be good enough to win enough games to avoid the cellar.
Pavelec gets the start in net tonight for the Jets and has played not-so-bad so far this season with a .919 SV% so far this season in four games. Entering this season, Winnipeg was considered to have the worst goaltending tandem in the NHL with Pavelec and Hutchinson and the quality of their play will likely determine if they are in the running for McDavid this summer or not.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN, BASIL?
Outside of putting this game in the national spotlight on this new Rogers platform, this game would carry very little interest to the rest of the NHL as this isn’t exactly a clash of western titans. However, I don’t know about you all but I have a healthy distaste for the Jets and I can’t really even explain why. Perhaps it is their dumb jerseys? I don’t know. I just don’t really like them.
Tonight Gaudreau will get another great shot at playing with some good linemates so this game will be interesting if only to see how he does with Backlund. Also, keep Paul Byron in your thoughts and prayers while he is on that line.
Puck drops at 5pm MT on…CITY?! am I reading that right?! correct me if I am wrong please..